Most of the time, the QPAC forecourt at South Bank is made of concrete pathways and patches of muddy grass. But for a few times a year, and especially for the Brisbane Festival, we’re instead given a construction of bright lights, booze, and above all, culture.
This contrast extends to Blanc de Blanc, a multicolour spectacular in the spirit of a French cabaret show. Amongst the neon lights, French accents and music, crazy dancing, and themes and streams of champagne bubbles, spouts a single Australian accent that perfectly represents Brisbane Festival.
Entering the Spiegeltent, I was bombarded with French music and decor. The front stage was made up like a balcony, featuring a rail that looked suspiciously like champagne bubbles, and a circular stage was in the middle of the tent screaming “audience participation“. Booths surrounded the sides for the classiest of the audience.
We took our seats to the right of the stage and started chatting about the expectations for the night. But then we were whisked away. Our neighbour had convinced an usher that we were a foursome worthy of a booth. Suddenly, we were a member of the classy ones, and we now had an elevated view and friends to share the show with.
The lights dimmed and the first dance number introduced us to the show. Our MC was a French man named Romeo, a pillar of style in a black suit, teaching us about champagne. This directly contrasted to his offsider, Spencer, a bumbling, ill-fitted man who stumbled around spouting various references with an Australian accent.
This is where the words get tough to write. How do you describe something that’s part acrobatics show, part dance number, part comedy act. I think I can sum it up best with this: The combination worked perfectly.
The most impressive starting number was a trapeze act. A gymnast danced and twirled around an incredibly French bellhop trolley. Together with the dark, blue lights of the room and the constant spinning of the artist created a hypnotizing effect directed at every person in the room.
Then, as predicted, the circular stage was the grounds for the audience participation round, as Romeo chose a woman from the front of the audience for some instruction on how to open a bottle of champagne in the most saucy way possible. It would be hard to find an audience member without a smile on their face. Again, the contrast of the captivating trapeze act and the hilarious bottle opening created a unique moment in the best way.
The dance act before the intermission revealed the circular stage to be a cover for a jacuzzi. From here on in, the tone of the show changed (and we’ll get to that after the intermission), but the theme of bubbles was indeed living on.
The intermission gave us a break to readjust our eyes to normal lighting, and gave me a chance to ask my plus one and our booth friends what they thought of the show. The response was universal praise, especially when compared to other acts from this year’s Brisbane Festival. I was beginning to understand why this was the show to see this year.
And now, the tone change. The first act back from the intermission was definitely the most titillating of the night. It was a dance number with naked actors just barely (and sometimes blatantly not at all) covering the important parts with their (and each other’s) hands, all with Romeo sitting in the jacuzzi dancing along.
The ramp up in sauciness was timed perfectly. Someone in the booth made the comment that anything like this in the first half would have felt out of place, but now, when everyone had had a drink or two, there was not a straight face in the Spiegeltent.
The second big trapeze act of the night was a man and woman act, and it was as hypnotizing as the first. We were given an intimate show of a man and a woman barely taking the time to catch their breath in between some of the most spectacular acrobatics I’ve seen.
I’ve listed some of the highlights, but I can’t not mention the comedic acts in between what could be described as the main events of the show. Most involved Spencer the clownish man-child whose acts went from asking girls in the audience to marry him, to dancing as a group. His solo dance (which is the word I’m going to use because I can’t think of a better term for it) to various sound effects and cuts from songs was the highlight of the night for me. The trapeze acts and group dance numbers were amazing, but he had a way of moving his body to the sounds that could have been pulled from a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The practice that would have gone into that could rival the trapeze, and it showed.
Eventually, the theme of bubbles hit its crescendo, and we were hit with the final act. We were hit with a fantastic dance number, with flowing champagne and suds, giant beach ball-like bubbles bouncing abound the audience like at a cricket game, and bubbles being blown everywhere. Our final view of the show was a trapeze artist purposefully waggling her behind surrounded by suds and probably champagne as she entered the into the curtain. A fitting end (pun intended) that perfectly summed up the show.
This was the kind of event that you have to assess as a whole. The show was amazing, but combined with the Spiegeltent, the South Bank forecourt food and bars, the amazing audience, and with making some booth friends, this was definitely a night to remember.
Written by Brice Fallon for CraftGossip.
Arcadia – Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
General Admission $65
Sep 2 – Sep 24